Real-time Dispatching and Relocation of Service Engineers

  • Problem:
    Given a service region consisting of several machines, repair base stations and service engineers.
    Costs occur if a machine breaks down and a repairman does not reach it within the established time window.
    The goal is to minimize costs by finding a smart policy to manage the service engineers.
  • Approaches used:
    Compliance tables
    Heuristic approach
    Approximate Dynamic Programming
    Markov Decision Theory
  • Results:
    – Accurate estimation of the repair gives significant advantage only in case of large repair times.
    – Compliance tables perform well only for the systems with small distances.
    – The heuristic policy increases the fraction of calls answered in time in up to 60% compared to a static policy and compliance tables.
    – The ADP approach outperforms all other approaches.
    – If the repair times are large, the exact optimal policy is obtained from Markov Decision theory.
  • Practical advice:
    1. In case of limited computational resources, use heuristic approach.
    2. If there is one given system and the time is not very limited, use ADP approach to obtain high-performing policy.
    3. In case of large repair times use the policy described in Section 9.2.
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